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CgDN3: An Essential Pathogenicity Gene of Colletotrichum gloeosporioides Necessary to Avert a Hypersensitive-Like Response in the Host Stylosanthes guianensis

September 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  9
Pages  929 - 941

Sally-Anne Stephenson , 1 , 2 Jodie Hatfield , 1 , 2 Anca G. Rusu , 1 , 3 Donald J. Maclean , 1 , 2 and John M. Manners 1 , 2 , 3

1Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Plant Pathology; 2The Department of Biochemistry, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 4072; 3CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, Long Pocket Laboratories, Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Queensland, Australia, 4067

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Accepted 31 May 2000.

A gene of Colletotrichum gloeosporioides that is induced by nitrogen starvation in axenic culture and is expressed at the early stages of infection of the host Stylosanthes guianensis has been identified and its role in pathogenicity tested. The sequence of this gene, named CgDN3, indicated that it encodes a protein of 74 amino acids that contains a predicted 18 amino acid signal sequence for secretion of a basic 54 amino acid mature protein with weak homology to an internal region of plant wall-associated receptor kinases. Mutants of C. gloeosporioides were produced by homologous recombination in which part of the coding sequence and promoter region of the CgDN3 gene was replaced with a hygromycin-resistance gene cassette. Mutations in the CgDN3 gene were confirmed in two independent transformants and Northern (RNA) analysis demonstrated the disrupted CgDN3 gene was not expressed. The mutants had faster mycelial growth rates in vitro but produced spores that germinated to form appressoria normally on the leaf surface. However, the CgDN3 mutants were unable to infect and reproduce on intact host leaves. Microscopic analysis revealed small clusters of necrotic host cells at inoculation sites on leaves, suggesting that these mutants elicited a localized, host hypersensitive-like response. The mutants were able to grow necrotrophically and reproduce on leaves when conidia were inoculated directly onto wound sites. The putative promoter region of the CgDN3 gene was fused to a gene encoding a modified jellyfish green fluorescent protein and introduced into the fungus. Following inoculation, strong expression of green fluorescent protein was observed in primary infection vesicles in infected epidermal cells with weaker expression evident in hyphae growing within infected leaf tissue. These findings indicate that CgDN3 encodes a novel pathogenicity determinant associated with the biotrophic phase of primary infection and required to avert a hypersensitive-like response by a compatible host.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society